Aberdeen cancer center to be named for Don Meyer, wife Carmen
By Carson Walker
SIOUX FALLS (AP) — A cancer center in South Dakota will bear the names of Don Meyer and his wife, providing an enduring legacy for the legendary basketball coach and his primary caregiver.
The Don and Carmen Meyer Center of Excellence will house the new Avera Cancer Institute at Avera St. Luke's Hospital in Aberdeen. Meyer is under hospice care at his home in the city.
Meyer, 69, retired from coaching in 2010 with a then-NCAA record 923 victories in 38 seasons at Northern State University in Aberdeen, Lipscomb University in Nashville, and Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota.
In September 2008, the native of Wayne, Nebraska, was critically injured in a car accident that led to the amputation of his left leg below the knee. Doctors discovered during his treatment that he had an inoperable form of cancer.
The couple and Gov. Dennis Daugaard began fundraising for the cancer institute project last month. The $13.5 million, 26,000 square foot building will provide care and expanded services for patients and caregivers. Groundbreaking is set for late summer and the center is scheduled to open in Fall 2015.
"We titled this project 'hope and healing,'" said St. Luke's president Todd Forkel. "And within that, we're going to use coach's extreme faith and perseverance to motivate others with this disease, whether they're the patient or the caregiver, to use his eternal optimism to help others."
That includes a wall bearing photos and a video board of looped clips of Meyer delivering encouraging messages.
Derrick Dinger, of Aberdeen, a donor and project board member, said the expanded institute will allow the hospital to better patients who otherwise would have to drive hundreds of miles for care.
"I see it kind of putting a new face on the hospital," he said of Meyer's involvement.
Forkel said using Carmen Meyer's name is important too.
"It was originally going to be the Don Meyer Center of Excellence. He was adamant Carmen's name is on it because caregivers are often forgotten," he said.